Creeknet friends continue to meet-up on Mondays at locations up and down the tidal reaches of Deptford Creek. The steps have been inaccessible to public for 20 years but are now scheduled to re-open for viewing at the Creeknet Symposium in June 2017.
At the end of recent walk in March we looked again at the Hoy Steps as we consider the tasks ahead to clear the street level yard, remove stacked wooden pallets and unchecked tree growth.
This week we returned at low tide to have a good look from the beach. The lower risers of the 20 steps are badly eroded not least because they spend 80% of the day submerged. The sea wall shows glimpses of more ancient timber structure through the patchy concrete. We have yet to asses costs to fix the steps but in the interim work to clear the trees and rubbish at the street level can begin in May.
Thames Tideway consortium have begun constructing a sewage overflow system from Ealing to Beckton. Excavation work has already begun at Deptford Church Street and Greenwich Pumping Station. At the quarterly Community Liaison Working Group they suggested their employee volunteer program could contribute much needed support for local projects. So far they have relied upon Thames21 to organise and operate volunteer engagement, clearing litter and logging scale of plastic rubbish in the river. We are assured a more direct involvement is possible, their community relations representatives visited this week to make an assessment.
On Monday 23rd January we will again meet up with Creeknet friends. Our host for the last few Mazi Mondays has been the Hoy Kitchen on Creek Road at the Deptford and Greenwich border by Creek Bridge. We have been starting with teas/lunch at noon and drifting on in discussion till 4pm. Please join us there.
Claire is the proprietor of Hoy and grew up in the Hoy Inn as it was previously known. Her family moved into the area from Belfast in the 70’s at a time when SE8 was comparatively naked, few street lights, road signs and empty buildings in a very industrial maritime landscape. The pub was a notorious social hub and she has many stories about these earlier times to tell! Her familiarity with local history, society and current wave of development is proving most entertaining and illuminating.
When Quayside redevelopment took off in the streets all around them during the 90’s her family faced fresh and unexpected challenges. Land which had always been linked to the Hoy was assumed part of the property development package. It triggered a fight to hold on to access and the infamous Hoy Steps. Successful but lengthy resistance has meant that the steps have been retained but a road wraps around the building to the new build properties adjacent.
Perhaps as a consequence, Claire has good contacts with local business including Millenium Quay who have responsibility for the recently installed swing bridge. She has also suggested making historical steps accessible for the first time since the dispute!
The illustrious privateer Sir Francis Drake may well have been knighted by Queen Elisabeth by the Hoy Steps, his ship ‘The Golden Hind’ certainly ended it’s days in the creek, scrapped to shore up the sea wall of the creek. Today the replica boat is a popular tourist destination in Clink Street by London Bridge very close to our very own Backspace which prevailed till turn of the last century!
Please join us in February when we will meet-up at Stephen Lawrence Centre for a further three Mazi Mondays. At these meet-ups we will work with low-cost technologies to host and promote a range of DIY neighbourhood publishing tools, discover more about the options for OWN mesh access meet its resident groups and friends from that area of the river by Brookmill Park.
Welcome to the new website for Friends of Deptford Creek, bear with us while we get used to this system and start writing!
Before heading off to this years Battlemesh in Porto, Portugal, James Stevens got together with 20 Deptford locals, Inurian activists and Mazi partners for a low tide walk on Deptford Creek. Our guide for the walk was botanist Nick Bertrand of the Creekside Education Trust, leading river ecology and environmental experts.
We had a splendid experience of the creek and learned a lot about how our impact on the environment, even one already so compromised and contaminated by waste and decades of abuse can have unexpected outcomes on ecology of plants and animals. When 400 shopping trolleys were removed in 1990’s it caused a collapse of fish populations! So now things a mostly left as they are.
Hundreds of school and public groups a year visit the creek and gain a unique experience and insight into the workings of Thames tributaries and an understanding of this most urban of British coastline, it’s place in history and current state of play.
Fresh water from the River Ravensbourne washes into Deptford Creek having soaked up Spring Brook, Pool and Quaggy rivers on its wander from Bromley. Daily tides swell the Thames 7 or 8 meters, yet the creek remains mostly fresh water with very little saline effect to deter plant and animal propagation. The sea wall containment of all these rivers has restricted the opportunities for nature to gain a firm footing, yet many wild flowers and water creatures thrive in the stew of manufactured and organic rubbish the river drags along. We saw leaches, shrimp and crabs and should expect flounder and eels in abundance later in the season. Decaying timber ‘bumpers’ along the length of the creek serve alongside purpose built terraces as home to small fish and plant life, nurturing success of species variety.
Many human lives also rely on the ebb and flow of the river not least the boating community here, many of which we continue to talk to and engage with, as our MAZI pilot develops. Minesweeper Collective operate an art lab aboard the wooden triple hull 2nd world war minesweeper in the creek. A screen printing workshop and image creation lab occupy the below deck areas whilst on deck the space suits symposium and performance both of which are well used by local and visiting artists. The collective seeks energy autonomy and uses 12v throughout, currently relying on large batteries, charged by diesel generator but intent on harvesting solar and wind before long. Slow repairs to the boat following a fire in 2008 are in progress but a crowd funding campaign and or public funding is needed to complete the majors works still required.
Yesterday, Greenwich Maritime Museum hosted a public consultation for those interested in artist and community collaboration projects seeking funding. The presentations from GAVS, ACE and Royal Borough of Greenwich, each explained how funding and support was available to nurture project development of public arts. Greenwich operate a Community Arts Fund which would particularly suit existing minesweeper project work and may offer a pathway to greater development funding in the future. In particular with a view to participating at the tall ships event in 2017 where a season of community arts and creative interaction events a planned to celebrate the return of the Tall Ships regatta to Greenwich . The theme for this year’ is ‘Voyaging, Discovery and Adventure’ perfect.